“Where are you going to college?”
“Saint Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia.”
“Oh, cool! What’s your major?”
Any graduating high school senior knows this conversation all too well. To some it might just be small talk with family friends you see a couple times a month, but to me, it was a wake up call. I was graduating high school and had big dreams for the future… if I only knew what those dreams were. I hadn’t the slightest clue what I wanted to major in and for the longest time, I didn’t even know what a major or minor technically was (just the music terms). It was actually very satisfying putting down “undecided” as my major when entering Saint Joseph’s.
I began to notice that every time I responded to the “major” question (no pun intended), I usually received a similar response: “Ohhh… well that’s okay! Most people go in undecided.” Understandably, their response was intended to be of a reassuring nature, but it almost seemed as though it came through with a layer of sympathy. I’m sure this was just my mind playing tricks on me, but it did repeatedly prompt an unwelcome self-reflection. I knew I didn’t need sympathy, but I did need to know what I wanted to do with my life.
Turns out, the undecided life isn’t too bad after all. The General Education Program (GEP for lazy mouths like mine) has been beautiful in terms of giving me plenty of other choices of classes to take… whether I like them or not. I kid, but in reality, these GEP courses have been a pretty neat thing. Although some have been harder than others (I’m looking at you, Honors Theology 154), I think I could say with certainty that each course has inspired me to some degree. My year-long Service-Learning First Year Seminar/Sociology 202 course has piqued my interest in social problems and community involvement. My “Math of Uncertainty” Math Beauty course taught me that math can be both useful and interesting in everyday life, something I found difficult to believe at first. And my foreign language requirement has cemented my desire to complete a Spanish minor. With the great help of my advisor, I’ve been able to complete many of my required GEP courses, plan for study abroad, and finally decide on a major. I’m excited to finally declare International Relations as my major!
For those entering college undecided, here’s my unsolicited advice: don’t place too much importance on the advice of others. Almost everyone means the best for you, but after a point, it might just cloud your judgement, and that is what ultimately matters the most. You’ll hear people tell you to do one thing and other people tell you to do just the opposite, some people tell you to do a lot of things and other people tell you to do nothing. Take what you want into consideration, but also realize that you know what’s best for you. If you find a trusted advisor, listen to them earnestly so that they and you know your situation better than anyone else, therefore creating the best path for you. Going into college undeclared also saves you the paperwork of switching majors, too (save the trees, am I right?).
In some ways, I think I’m still undecided and will always be. The primary reason for my choice of International Relations as a major is that it’s something I’m interested in, but that it also provides me with plenty of career options after graduation, something I have a feeling I’m going to need. I love traveling, learning about different countries and different cultures, and essentially how the world works, and with a degree in International Relations, I could go into a variety of fields concerning these topics. I’ve utilized the Career Development Center’s interest inventory and although it was certainly helpful, it also showed me how even statistically I’m interested in so many different things that it’s going to be pretty difficult to settle on a specific career. I may soon have a declared major and minor, but I’m not quite at point to declare a career. I may have answered the “major” question, but I still have three plus years to decide on my answer for the “life” question!